ON THE CHANGE OF REFRANGIBILITY OF LIGHT. 265
hibited by these compounds is very singular, and is of a totally different nature from the connection which has been already mentioned as occurring in solutions of the green colouring matter of leaves.
There is one law relating to the change of refrangibility which appears to be quite universal, namely, that the refrangibility of light is always lowered by internal dispersion. The incident rays being homogeneous, the dispersed light is found to be more or less composite. Its colour depends simply on its refrangibility, having |
no relation to the colour of the incident light, or to the circumstance |
that the incident rays were visible or invisible. The dispersed light appears to emanate in all directions, as if the solid or fluid were self-luminous while under the influence of the incident rays.
The phenomenon of the change of refrangibility of light admits of several important applications. In the first place it enables us to determine instantaneously the transparency or opacity of a solid or fluid with respect to the invisible rays more refrangible than the violet, and that, not only for these rays as a whole, but for the rays of each refrangibility in particular. For this purpose it is sufficient to form a pure spectrum with sun-light as usual, employing instead of a screen a vessel containing a decoction of the bark of the horse-chestnut, or a slab of canary glass, or some other highly sensitive medium, and then to interpose the medium to be examined, which, if fluid, would have to be contained in a vessel with parallel sides of glass. Glass itself ceases to be transparent about the region corresponding to the end of the author's map, and to carry on these experiments with respect to invisible rays of still higher refrangibility would require the substitution of quartz for glass. The reflecting power of a surface with respect to the invisible rays may be examined in a similar manner.
The effect produced on sensitive media leads to interesting information respecting the nature of various flames. Thus, for example, it appears that the feeble flame of alcohol is extremely brilliant with regard to invisible rays of very high refrangibility. The flame of hydrogen appears to abound in invisible rays of still higher refrangibility.
By means of the phenomena relating to the change of refrangibility, the independent existence of one or more sensitive substances may frequently be observed in a mixture of various compounds. In this way the phenomenon seems likely to prove of value in the